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Season 3

Show 306: The Pacific Rim

Drawing on the traditions, favored ingredients and techniques of the Pacific Northwest, the professor leads a short and to-the-point master class on Pacific Rim grilling: Lemongrass Pork Sates with Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Relish that reflect the strong influence the cooking on the far side of the Pacific has on grillmasters here; salmon grilled on Alder planks from the northwest with citrus compound butter; and a dessert that marries sweet and savory - cinnamon grilled plums with an Oregon Pinot Noir wine sauce.

Lemongrass Pork Sates printer-ready version

Method: direct grilling
Serves: 4 to 6 (makes 36 sates)

You'll also need:

  • 36 long slender bamboo skewers (8 to 12 inches)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and coarsely chopped (6 to 8 tablespoons), or 3 strips lemon zest, each about 1-1/2 by 1/2 inch
  • 1 large or 2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped (about 5 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 to 3 Thai chiles, Serrano peppers, or other hot chiles, seeded and roughly chopped (leave the seeds in for hotter sates)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Asian fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds pork loin or tenderloin
  • Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

1. Place the lemongrass, shallot, garlic, chile(s), and sugar in a food processor and pulse to make a coarse paste. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the oil, and the black pepper and purée until smooth. You can also place all of the marinade ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth.

2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the pork loin crosswise slightly on the diagonal into thin slices (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut each slice lengthwise in half or thirds to create thin strips of meat about 1 inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long. Weave each strip of meat like a ribbon on a skewer. The meat will bunch up as it goes on the skewer; gently spread it out with your fingers.

3. Arrange 12 of the satés in a single layer in a nonreactive baking dish. Pour a third of the marinade over the satés in the baking dish. Turn the satés to coat both sides with the marinade. Arrange 12 more satés on top of the first layer, pour half of the remaining marinade over these, and turn this layer to coat evenly. Arrange the remaining satés on top of the second layer, pour the remaining marinade over these, and turn to coat evenly. Let the pork marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil that is roughly as long as the grill is wide. Fold into half lengthwise. Place the foil flat on the grate at the edge closest to you. Arrange the satés on the grate so they are over the fire but the exposed ends of the skewers are on top of the foil shield to keep them from burning. Depending on the side of the grill, you may need to cook the satés in batches. Grill the satés until cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, basting them with vegetable oil. Transfer the grilled satés to a platter or hand them to your guests right off the grill. Serve with tiny dishes of Peanut Sauce for dipping.

Peanut Sauce

Yield: 1-3/4 cups

  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken stock, light cream, or unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Thai chile or Serrano pepper, seeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced or grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients and gradually bring to a simmer, whisking as needed to blend. Simmer until richly flavored, about 5 minutes. The sauce should be thick but pourable; add more stock if necessary. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The sauce will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for several days. Stir to recombine.)

Cinnamon Plums with Port Sauce printer-ready version

Adapted from: Raichlen's Indoor Grilling
Method: direct grilling
Serves: 4

for the Port Sauce:

  • 1 cup port
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 strips lemon zest, each about 1/2 by 1-1/2 inches (see Notes)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, or more to taste
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

for the plums:

  • 4 large ripe plums (see Notes)
  • 8 cinnamon sticks (each 3 inches)
  • 8 strips lemon zest (see Notes)
  • Vanilla ice cream or yogurt, for serving
  • 4 fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

1. Make the port sauce: Place the port in a heavy nonreactive saucepan. Stick the cloves into the strips of lemon zest and add them to the port, along with the cinnamon stick and the sugar. Gradually bring to a boil over high heat, then let boil until slightly reduced and just beginning to become syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice and gradually stir it into the port mixture. Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer until it thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the sauce into a heat-proof bowl and let cool to room temperature. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

3. Prepare the plums: Cut each in half along the crease. Twist the plum halves in opposite directions to separate them. Remove and discard the pits. Cut each plum half in half. Using a metal skewer and working from the pit-side, make a hole in the center of each plum quarter. Then thread two plum quarters on each cinnamon stick, skin side to cut side, placing a strip of lemon zest between the two quarters. Repeat with the remaining plum wedges to make 8 cinnamon stick skewers. The recipe can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

4. When ready to cook, set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Brush and oil the grill grate. Cook the plum kebabs, basting with the port sauce, until they are sizzling and golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Baste one last time.

5. To serve, scoop vanilla ice cream into 4 martini glasses, wine goblets, or small bowls. Place 2 plum kebabs on top of each scoop of ice cream and spoon the remaining port sauce over them. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve at once.

Note: The zest is the oil-rich outer yellow rind of the lemon. Remove it in the thinnest possible strips using a vegetable peeler, zester, or paring knife.

Note: Almost any type of plum is good grilled. I like big, fleshy, freestone purple plums; freestone refers to a fruit that's easy to pit.

© 2005 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort